Friday, February 17, 2017

A Product Marketer's Guide to Creating a Demo Video

The first of December last year my boss’s boss came up to me and said, “hey, I’d like a new demo video for our sales kick off in a few weeks, can you make one?.” I was very excited for the challenge and also terrified since the timeline was tight and included the Christmas holiday. Long story short is that I was able to pull it off and make a video that has been received well and I’m proud of. There were a few things I learned along the way that I thought I’d share.  

  1. Get crystal clear goals and constraints. Know the exact timeline, exact budget and what you’re trying to accomplish. Don’t get started until it’s all mapped out. Reiterate the goals and constraints to everyone you talk to internally and externally, especially when the timelines are tight you need to reiterate over and over again to be able to move fast. Misunderstandings just slow you down.
  2. Find inspiration. Look at as many example as possible. Decide which ones you like and which ones you don’t. Make stakeholders pick or rank their favorite ones out of a list you send them. An agency making your video will work best when you can give them a mashup and say something like “I want the style of this video, but the storyline of this one.”
  3. Decide who gives feedback. One of the most challenging parts of the process can be managing everyone’s opinion. Decide who has the final word, then the other role people will play in the decision. Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.
  4. Keep it short. No one watches long videos anymore. Don’t make it long, <90 seconds.
  5. Let creative people be creative. If you’re using an agency, you are probably the domain expert, but lean on your agency when you need to. You don’t always have to tell them “how” to do something, but sometimes if you give them the “what”, they’ll figure out the how.
  6. Show it to fresh eyes. Especially when you have your first version, show it to someone who is not involved in the process to get their reaction. If you’re too close to it, there will be so much you’ll miss. If you want your video to have broad appeal, show it to someone who is not in your industry or profession to really see if it’s simple.

Ok, let me tell you a bit about how this process went for me recently in the context of these tips.

1. The time was the big constraint, so when my executive wanted to do live action, after talking to the agency I just had to say NO. We just did not have enough time. Also, he made it clear the goal was for this to be exciting and pump up our sales team, but also to be used as a marketing asset throughout the year. He did not want a boring video. Those guidelines were our north star.

2. There were so many types of videos that I send him a few examples of the different varieties. This is the email I sent. It anchored the conversation in real world examples.
3. At LinkedIn we follow the RAPID framework and I had that mapped out and documented ahead of time. Not only that but there were some people we would usually get feedback from that we cut out of the process since they would slow it down.

4. This was hard for us. My executive kept wanted to include more and more pieces. We cut a lot and found a few creative ways to simplify the video. For example, instead of showing the Email, CRM and Mobile integrations, like he originally wanted, we just quickly mentioned they exist, which is what most people care about anyways. It saved us a ton of time.

5. There were some parts of the first draft that just did not work, but I did not have any idea, I went to the agency and they figured it out.

6. We were pretty happy with the video then we showed it to a bunch of fresh eyes and they said it was way too fast and they could not keep up. I also showed it to my wife and she said the same thing. We cut a bunch more, slowed it down until my executive’s kids got what we were trying to do.

So here it is....

Bottom line, it was a fun project and I learned a lot. A big thanks to Alchemy for helping me make the video.